Hindu Vivek Kendra
«« Back
Soniaji, if you really care about the aam aadmi...

Soniaji, if you really care about the aam aadmi...

Author: Tavleen Singh
Publication: The Indian Express
Date: February 11, 2007
URL: http://www.indianexpress.com/story/23064.html

If Sonia Gandhi were no longer on speaking terms with her handpicked prime minister, you might understand the rationale for writing him a letter. If he were getting too big for his tiny boots you might understand why he needed to be publicly admonished. What other reason could have prompted his boss to write an admonitory letter to our gentle Sardarji and then leak it to the press so that the whole country now knows that Soniaji is displeased with allowing more Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the retail sector?

When asked about the deliberately public nature of Sonia Gandhi's mode of communication, her party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said, "The Congress president is always for the common man's interest. She wants to put into place full safeguards and regulatory mechanisms to ensure that the aam aadmi is not adversely affected by this economic activity."

Aha! Get it? The Congress president is keen that the aam aadmi knows that she is on his side always and forever and is ready to make the prime minister of India look like a schoolboy, if push comes to shove. What she appears not to have noticed is that the aam aadmi has been kept so poor and illiterate by the kind of state-controlled economic policies she advocates, and that he would have no idea what FDI is, leave alone its consequences, if he ever has the money to open a shop or go shopping.

Before Sonia Gandhi shoots off her next missive on behalf of the aam aadmi, she needs a crash course in Indian economic history of the past 60 years. Generous soul that I am, I shall give it to her myself for free. Paying attention, Soniaji?

Lesson I: Bharat Mata is a land so rich in natural, human and every other kind of resource that we should be the richest country in the world. Our poorest states, even Bihar, could be rich just on earnings from tourism. If it had roads, decent airports, railway stations, hotels, reliable power supply and telecommunications, Bihar could make a living just out of being the land of the Buddha and the cradle of Indian civilisation. All the above infrastructure, please note, will benefit the aam aadmi.

Lesson II: If India still struggles with hideous poverty it is because of bad economic policies. In the name of the aam aadmi, India's rulers concentrated our resources on creating an economic model that served the interests of the rulers not the people. A small example. If the money we spend on housing our politicians and officials and on their other freebies were spent on building schools, hospitals and roads for the people, our hopeless record on the social infrastructure front could be easily rectified. Close down loss-making public sector companies, and we would have thousands and thousands of crores of rupees to spend on giving the aam aadmi a decent standard of living.

Had we started doing this, dear Soniaji, when your mother-in-law and husband were running the country, India would already have been an economic superpower. Rajiv at least tried to bring change. Under mama-in-law, whose economic ideas you appear, unfortunately, to have imbibed, we wasted 20 years isolating ourselves from the incredible economic changes that were taking place even in communist countries like China. It was a terrible mistake.

Lesson III: We cannot afford any more mistakes. To control FDI in retail helps not the aam aadmi but a handful of very rich Indians who have discovered how much money can be made out of retail. They do not want competition from abroad because they know that the West (and even the East) is ahead when it comes to modern shopping facilities. Let them compete. They can compete and win.

As for the average Indian he can only benefit. Indian farmers, currently under such siege that there is an alarming suicide rate, will find new markets. Indian consumers will get better goods at cheaper prices. The small shopkeeper will either modernise his operations and join the organised sector, which today accounts for only three per cent of retail, or he will sell his property for a profit to a bigger company and move on to better things. In any case this will happen.

Lesson IV: You have already wasted thousands of crores in taxpayers money on well-meaning but unworkable schemes like the employment guarantee scheme. Now that we see it in operation, it is clear that mainly it guarantees to keep the aam aadmi in poverty forever because it provides charity and not the tools of empowerment.

Please stop interfering now. And, please remember that before he became Prime Minister, Dr Manmohan Singh was an economist. Can we concede that he might know a little more about economic policy than you?


Back                          Top

«« Back
  Search Articles
  Special Annoucements